Note: As part of the emerging Valley Futures Network conversation, we extended an open invitation to anyone interested in reading and discussing Rob Hopkins’ new Transition Handbook to attend a three Thursday potluck dinner and conversation, hosted and facilitated by Kinny Perot and Richard Czaplinski. We hope to see more of these conversations in the months ahead!
Transition Handbook Dinner Potluck and Conversation
Tuesday, January 29, 2009
Kinny Perot and Richard Czaplinski – Facilitators
Present: Bill Maclay, Sue Frechette, Charlie Hosford, Erin Maile O’Keefe, Kevin O’Keefe, Carol Hosford, Kinny Perot, John Donaldson, Richard Czaplinski, Bobbi Rood, Jared Cadwell, Stan Ward, Joshua Schwartz, Alex Maclay, Lisa Loomis, and Rob Williams.
Richard: Have you ever changed your behavior or habit, and what was the catalyst for doing so?
Lisa: Use a clothesline – motivated by sleeping in sheets that had been dried on a line.
Kinny: On the vegetarian front, read about how much grain goes into producing a pound of meat, tried eating “veggie” for a week, month, year – thirteen years. Pregnancy re-introduced meat in the form of craving for it – try to eat local meat when consuming. Driving fewer miles – using a Honda hybrid, being aware of the amount of fuel being consumed – raising awareness. “Give myself a star for not driving each day.”
Carol: Taking shorter showers – “Button Up” workshop with Brad Cook was a catalyst.
Charlie: Finding change in local eating. As a child, I rode a bike everywhere. I can remember when my parents bought an old used car – gave up some of the “bike life.”
Alex: Seeing the movie “Flow” raised issues about the importance of our drinking water – taking action is important. As long we buy bottled water, for example, we’re part of the problem (related to “Flow.”)
Stan: Changing behaviors has been a big part of my life recently. But there are challenges – driving more slowly is hard. Ha. Not flying – ever. Wow. (Won’t have to see my sister-in-law again. JOKE. Ha.) Motivation? We are addicted to oil – this is one way to try and take personal responsibility, limit oneself to personal modes of transportation.
Erin: I’ve tried to reduce consumption through eliminating packaging – e-mail from a young woman who is carrying all the garbage she produces in her backpack, to make a statement about the nature of our “throwaway” society. (Stan: Keep a diary of what you throw out.)
Sue: I was a fat high school/college kid. Read a book by Nancy Clark – ask yourself how you feel after eating (100 calories of orange is different that 100 calories of chocolate). Awareness – can apply to all kinds of life situations.
Josh: Awareness and accountability. Not having cable television for years – having a child changed my media behavior.
Kevin: During the early 1990s, I joined a CSA, and ate a beautifully tasting tomato. Changed my life.
John: Becoming aware of the consequences of our actions is key, as we say here, but perhaps we are unusual. Most people are motivated by fear (where’s the gas?) rather than by foresight. How do we get ourselves to transform their behavior?
Stan: Peak Oil can be presented in a fearful way, and this often turns off people and the discussion.
Sue: Analogy of an obese friend who didn’t recognize he was overweight until his doctor told him.
Rob: The “cult of experts” is tough to overcome. Can we find value in discussion and planning with our neighbors?
Richard: Page 93 of TRANSITION HANDBOOK – invert the Peak Oil curve, and celebrate the transition. What’s your reaction to the reading?
Josh: My first reaction – thank goodness for the VFN vision for the place we live in. I’m a planner – and our emerging plans could be much larger than we can even imagine now.
Kinny: Are we really that different than other people? I don’t know, actually. But if I lived in a city now, I’d be more concerned because I didn’t have as much say or control over systems – water, etc. (Channeling Rupert Blair, old timer in Mad River, “we didn’t know when the depression hit, ‘cause it was always a depression here…) And my mind is stuck on this question of “are we different?”
Carol: Riding the trains in NYC – signs that talk about saving energy – seems to be more enlightenment there than previously.
Charlie: Are the cities toast in a post-carbon world? (City dwellers use less energy than their suburban and rural counterparts, on a per individual basis.)
Bobbi: The downside of living in the cities, post Peak Oil, is how will folks survive? The energy “descent” – I like this idea. How would I do my job?
Erin: Parallel to the medical model. We wait until something really bad happens before we attend to it. A labor support dula, I trained as, and what’s interesting about this is that my biggest part of my job is to make women aware of their choices. Maybe that’s what we need to do – to increase the awareness that people have choices.
Stan: In the transition course, we did an exercise where we imagine ourselves in 2030. Some remarkable imaginings here (and lots of laughter – will we still be alive, as old folks? Ha.)
Charlie: We’re about to move into a time where history will repeat itself. The post Peak Oil world feels like my world as a kid – we never bought anything new, we recycled everything, and lived self-sufficiently. If oil ended tomorrow – the sooner the better, ha – I feel absolutely confident that I/we could make it.
Stan: Inspiring. We did this before. We’ve just been an oil-induced vacation.
Kinny: The Cuba movie – THE POWER OF COMMUNITY. Solutions-oriented and actual history. Cuba’s “Special Period” when the USSR collapsed in 1990-1991 and most of Cuba’s fossil fuel energy suddenly got cut off. How did they survive? And what does this story hold for us here? The weather here in Vermont helps prepare people for being “cut off.”
Jared: I am interested in what we might come up with for next steps as a group, using the TRANSITION HANDBOOK and our own skills as a guide.
Charlie: What role does local governance play in supporting a VFN sort of vision?
Jared: Part of me says “get government out of the way, let energized folks lead.” Another part of me says: “business as usual no longer applies.” People in elected positions maybe have a different role now – “this is the way we always do stuff,” maybe that won’t cut it any more? There is real competency and interest around doing things differently – energy, food, agriculture, etc.
Alex: The biggest hurdle we face is the sense that these dilemmas are distant – we shouldn’t worry about that. How do we do this?
Lisa: We start incorporating these ideas into a planning process for the Valley. Get the planning process working from the ground up.
Bill: We’re actually doing stuff that’s talked about in the book. That’s comforting. What’s missing is the sense of urgency and explicit connection to the “shift happens” paradigm.
Carol: Shift will come, and we move towards it on step at a time.
Bobbi: Centralized recycling (not) versus local compost (yes).
Bobbi: What about time banks?
Erin: Currency is key.
Stan: What attracts me to this Valley is the sense of community. Reading TH, this positive vision of the future, is an amazing thing.
Richard: Any last burning questions?
Kevin: I didn’t grow up with any real skills, so I needed a tree removed, and my woodchuck friend quoted me a price, and then he and I dropped the tree together, save $500, took me three days of work, but now I have a relationship to the tree and the wood that I didn’t have before. How do we value what’s significant? Our relationships will get stronger if we have to carpool, etc. – there is gold here.
Kinny: Quote from the book. “My expectations interfere with my will to act.”
Rob: Can we make a list of concrete ideas and initiatives from THE HANDS part for the last Thursday meeting?